Post-natal Depression - recognising the signs of post-natal Depression and
avoiding post-natal depression
What is post natal depression?
There is no doubt that
the introduction of a baby into your life, no matter how loved and
wanted, can cause a lot of emotional and physical stress if you
are not prepared. In our western culture, support for new mothers
can be lacking because relatives often live far away and our friends
may not be our immediate neighbours. Also, when your friends and
family are with you, you may find that their expectations about
how you should be feeling are not necessarily the same as yours.
Alternatively, your feelings may not be as intense as you expect
them to be immediately after birth and for some women, it can take
some time before the feelings of love for your new baby develops.
For many women the pregnancy
may have been a difficult one and the baby may not have been planned.
Many things can influence the way that you initially feel about
your new baby. These emotional stresses combined with a less than
optimal level of nutrition and the obvious hormone changes that
you will be experiencing post birth with perhaps a poor sleep pattern
due to the babies demands can lead to post natal depression, and
it is very common.
However, there are ways to both prevent and treat depressive thinking
effectively without resorting to drugs.
So what are the symptoms of post natal depression?
Well it is no different
from the symptoms of general depression, these can include:
- A lack of motivation
- Vivid dreaming
- Waking early feeling exhausted (this may be
a normal part of early life with your baby of course, especially
if he or she is not
a good sleeper)
- A lack of pleasure in usually pleasurable activities
- Black and white thinking (everything bad happens to
me, everything good to others etc)
- Negative introspection and
- A loss of appetite
So how can you help prevent post natal depression?
The first thing to state
is that most women don’t actually get full depression but
they tend to classify feeling weepy and a bit low as depression.
This is quite normal and will pass after a few weeks so don’t
get too concerned if you do have mood swings or if you don’t
feel your usual self. It is probably due to the hormones changes
that occur after birth as your body begins returning to normal,
and remember you have been sharing your body with your baby for
nine months and many women express a feeling akin to grief at this
parting. So this is normal and will pass.
If you are concerned or you have suffered from depression in the
past and want be prepared what can you do?
Well the good news is that relaxation and self-hypnosis can be very effective at de-conditioning the emotional arousal
that happens during depression. So planning time to practice active
and using the techniques on the Second Nature Birth Programme
or the HypnoBirthing Programme will certainly be beneficial and will help you to prepare mentally
Practicing the techniques will make it easier to relax after the
birth and will be a powerful aid to de-stressing. We are far more
able to cope with stress if we have a tool or method to help us
Keep up some form of physical exercise. For example,
if you are practicing yoga, do not give it up after
birth. Go for long walks with your baby as soon as you feel
comfortable enough and strong enough to do so. This would
usually be at least
three weeks after the birth and longer if you have had a caesarean.
(consult your midwife for advice if you are unsure)
Join a local support network
prior to the birth of your baby. A mother and toddlers
group may offer exactly the support and shared experience that you
need after the birth and a group like the National Childbirth Trust
in the UK would be ideal.
National Childbirth Trust
Alexandra House Oldham Terrace Acton London W3 6NH. Enquiry Line
: 0870 444 8707 (9am-5pm Mon-Thurs, 9am-4pm Fri)
If you are in the UK register for NCT classes early as they do get
booked up well in advance. It will put you in touch with other women
at relatively the same stage of pregnancy as you and will offer
you a new social group to meet with after the birth.
Nutrition. There is page on nutrition on the site however the
following is especially pertinent to maintaining mental health
through diet: Remember, your diet is as important when you are breast feeding as it is when you are preganant.
a. Supplement vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, particularly
calcium, magnesium and zinc.
b. Eat a lot of oily fish, herring mackerel, sardines salmon and
tuna are all good.
c. Supplement omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
d. Eat a lot of raw fruit and vegetables (organic if possible) and
e. Make up this mixture and use on breakfast cereal
and in soups, one tablespoon a day. Make up equal quantities
of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and then three
time the amount of flax (linseeds) together
in a blender. Grind them until they are granulated and store
the mixture in the fridge.
f. If you are constipated you may wish to use a few more flax
seeds during the day separately as these will aid the digestion.
Talk to your partner. Friends and family and discuss any concerns
that you have before they arise. Do not wait for issues
to sort themselves out as they have a habit of hanging around.
Plan for the
birth. This may seem obvious, but what we mean are the
less obvious aspects like:
- Find out who among your family and friends will be willing
to baby sit or offer you support you in other way. Knowing this
be very reassuring.
- When you cook, double the quantities. This
means that you will only need to cook half the time.
- Talk to other mums and learn from them about what they did
to cope with a new baby.
- Book your nursery place well in advance
if you are planning a return to work. If you are not then you
will want to plan
stimulation when you are at home with your baby especially
if you have had a challenging career.
Treating post natal depression.
Most post natal depression disappears after a few weeks or months,
but you will want to avoid unnecessary suffering, so seek help early.
As psychotherapists, we see people with depression every day and
know how effectively to help. So seeing a brief solution focused
therapist may be the answer for you.
If you are the south of England I can see you for treatment visit me at www.hovehypnotherapy.co.uk